Young Masculinities: Understanding Boys in Contemporary Society by Frosh, Stephen, Phoenix, Dr Ann, Pattman, Dr Rob (2001) Paperback
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How do boys see themselves? Their peers? The adult world? What are their aspirations, their fears? How do they feel about their own masculinity? About style, 'race', homophobia? About football?
This book examines aspects of 'young masculinities' that have become central to contemporary social thought, paying attention to psychological issues as well as to social policy concerns. Centring on a study involving in-depth exploration, through individual and group intererviews, the authors bring to light the way boys in the early years of secondary schooling conceptualise and articulate their experiences of themselves, their peers and the adult world. The book includes discussion of boys' aspirations and anxieties, their feelings of pride and loss. As such, it offers an unusually detailed set of insights into the experiential world inhabited by these boys - how they see themselves, how girls see them, what they wish for and fear, where they feel their 'masculinity' to be advantageous and where it inhibits other potential experiences. In describing this material, the authors explore questions such as the place of violence in young people's lives, the functions of 'hardness', of homophobia and football, boys' underachievement in school, and the pervasive racialisation of masculine identity construction.
Young Masculinities will be invaluable to researchers in psychology, sociology, gender and youth studies, as well as to those devising social policy on boys and young men.
Acknowledgements Introduction Boys Talk Lads, Machos and Others: Developing 'Boy-Centred' Research 'Hegemonic' Masculinities Boys Talking About Girls Girls About Boys Ethnic Identity, 'Race' and Young Masculinities Policing Young Masculinities Boys and Schooling On the Way to Adulthood: Relationships with Parents Conclusion References Appendix 1: Details of Individual and Group Interviews with Boys and Girls Appendix 2: Characteristics of the Participants Appendix 3: Protocol for Group Interviews Appendix 4: Protocol for Individual Interviews Appendix 5: Protocol for Individual Interviews with Girls Index
originally intended. The final sample is described below. Introduction 7 Our original proposal involved the interviewing of some mixed groups of girls and boys about masculinity. However, as the research developed, it became clear to us that the design could be improved by the addition of a sample of girls in order to avoid what some have called the ‘over-gendering’ of boys (e.g. Mac an Ghaill, 2000). We therefore appointed a female psychologist (Ruksana Patel) to interview girls individually
Shane If a girl likes a boy they don’t usually tell them. Exactly, they just flirt with them. Wait for the boy to say it. Yeah exactly … she’s all like tearing his face … but inside she’s all like ‘Oh my love, I love you’ [laughter] she’s like ‘football head, get out of my way’. By characterising girls in this way boys could, of course, reassure themselves that girls found them attractive even when apparently rejecting them. Conclusion Our focus has been on the ways boys construct the gendered
the slow achievement of selfcontrol seemed to be a common aspect of girls’ constructions of the developmental trajectory of young masculinities. Ethel also wanted a boyfriend to combine playing football with a ‘nice personality’: They have to have a nice personality (2) and don’t like, not telling me to go away when they’re playing football or something, give me some time or something. But not all the time to be together, because it’s not going to be that good so just a little bit of time to see
and dull, that girls had a much wider range of interests and were more engaging and understanding, as well as more mature and sensible, was reflected in the overwhelmingly positive responses when girls were asked if they preferred being a girl to being a boy. Twenty-two of the 24 girls replied yes. Eight of these spoke about things they could do and ways they could be which were unavailable to boys. Some girls specified, also, that while girls could do ‘boys’ things’, like wearing trousers and
masculinity, more capable of recognising the pain caused by the macho footballing culture of the school, to many boys as well as to girls. Constructing boys as being susceptible to peer pressure The girls in these interviews sometimes expressed agreeable surprise at how quiet, thoughtful and mature the boys were, though they also implied that this was not what they were really like. As one girl said ‘You wait when we’re back in class’, as if the boys would suddenly revert to their normal selves